If you consider that according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 75% of American women use the Internet, it should come as no surprise that it's become a mainstay for the American mom--to handle family finances, shop, research and connect with friends.
Yet despite the prevalence of moms online, marketers' efforts to reach them have hit some serious bumps. Consider the scorching 15-seconds-of-fame sparked by the Motrin Moms ad, which managed to annoy the heck out of the tiny percentage of people who actually saw it. Or the backlash that many brands experience when they ham-handedly approach mom-bloggers. Or just the sheer complexity of Internet space versus real life. It's a huge challenge, and yesterday's marketing tools and strategies come up sadly short, or worse, backfire.
What is a brand to do?
This conundrum was the impetus for Digital Mom, a two-part report published by Razorfish and Cafe Mom to try to help marketers better understand how mothers use technology. It was also the theme of the Moms Who Tech "Birds of a Feather" session hosted last night at Web 2.0 by Sarah Murgel of Razorfish, Beth Blecherman of Techmamas and Silicon Valley Moms, and our own Martha Feingold, also a blogger for Silicon Valley Moms. Here are a few tidbits from the report:
- About 32 million women in the US have children under 18 and go online. Of those, 27 million of interact with emerging technologies. Razorfish calls these women "digital moms."
- "Digital moms" have moved beyond email and search, and are now active users of Web 2.0 technologies. The majority of these moms are using social networks (65%) and text messaging (56%). More than half of them are also gamers, with 52% playing games online or via a console.
- Moms' digital behaviors change remarkably based on their children’s ages. Razorfish found that moms with children 12 and older are motivated to adopt new technologies to stay in tune with their children. Of those moms who use social networks and blogs, almost half do so to monitor their children.
And yet reaching these moms is a major headache for brands big, small and homemade. While the conversation quickly turned to mom-bloggers (how to find, connect and work with us), the real concern in the room was about the intense personalization that effective social marketing entails.
After all, "mass media" is called "mass" for a reason, isn't it?
The Razorfish approach emphasizes segmentation and deeply understanding a multitude of factors including:
- Technology usage patterns
- Age, both of the mother and the child
- Changing motivations for using technology as children grow
- Communication patterns among moms
- Interests beyond parenting (shocking but true)
- What media and channels they interact with
But while best practices are emerging (and evolving) every day, the overwhelming need--in this room anyway--was simply to understand: Where are these moms? Who are they? What do they want?
In the end, there were no epiphanies beyond the simple agreement that the focus needs to be on how to build better relationships with people rather than focusing on how to market to them. As Guy Hirsch, CEO of Vestopia (and the only guy in the room) put it, "I'm just here to understand what half the population is all about." In social terms, that's a pretty decent first step.
For a live-blogged transcript of the session, see Beth Blecherman's post at Techmamas.